Relations between Actor-demoting devices in Lithuanian

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This article is devoted to a systematic account of Lithuanian Actor-demoting devices, both grammatical (with participles, only to a limited extent by the reflexive marker) and lexical (by the reflexive marker), and their interplay in the contemporary language. Occasional comparisons with Latvian are drawn, and the typological background is laid out briefly. The account is based on Role&Reference Grammar and on the taxonomy of valency changes described for so-called reflexive verbs in the pioneering work of Geniušiene (1987). As one of the main outcomes of the present study we may consider the confirmation of a systematic restriction of the so-called ‘impersonal passive’ to predicates with a human being representing the highest-ranking (often sole) argument. This restriction has been observed for many other languages with impersonals. The crucial point however is that this restriction is stronger than argument-based restrictions, a fact which becomes particularly manifest within a small group of lexical converses marked with the reflexive marker, for reflexive-causative constructions and for two-place intransitive verbs whose single macrorole must be an Undergoer (rather than an Actor). Another main conclusion to be drawn from the analysis is the existence of a functional split with impersonals which can acquire an inferential reading; in this case the restrictions of referential properties stated above as well as orientation toward any macrorole are cancelled. Differently from Geniušiene’s contribution to this volume, here no aspectual functions are discussed, nor is there any focus on discourse-pragmatic properties of Actor-demoting devices. Instead, the clear focus of this article lies on the impersonal (‘subjectless passive’ in Geniušiene’s terminology) and its interaction with lexical valency-changes caused by the reflexive marker.


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